Are You Willing To Be Yourself?

Authentic Personality

by Jayaram V

The world follows those who do not follow the world. Jayaram V

In the Autobiography of a Yogi, Swami Paramahansa Yogananda narrated his meeting with Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Bengali Poet of the last century, and how he admired his poetry and other works. While writing about his meeting with him, he stated that in his earlier days before receiving the Noble Prize for literature Rabindranath Tagore had many critics, who used to criticize him for his style and "mixing colloquial expressions with classical," setting aside the norms that were dear to the scholars. He mentioned that a well-known critic of his times even went to the extent of describing him as a "pigeon poet who sold his cooings in print for a rupee."

The trend changed after Rabindranath Tagore won the Noble Prize for literature, and got a lot of recognition and attention for his literary skills in the West and all over the world. People at home realized his true merit and began praising him. Some of them who criticized him before also changed their minds and became his admirers and flatterers. The Swami narrated that after he won the prize, a delegation of scholars went to meet him at Santiniketan, where he was staying. Tagore said to have met them after making them wait for a long time and chastised them in his poetic style for their attitude stating that their fragrant honors were mixed with the "putrid odors" of past contempt, but he was still the same poet who offered his "humble flowers at the shrine of Bengal."

Rabindranath Tagore was not the only person to go though such an experience. It is common to many people who achieve success after initial struggle. It is no wonder that many famous people posthumously achieved their fame and recognition after living a life of great hardship and suffering. Saints like Shirdi Baba, Swami Vivekananda, Maheshyogi, Acharya Rajneesh, and many writers, artists, film stars and national leaders had their ample share of struggle before they were accepted and appreciated by the public. The same happens to many people who try to initiate new movements or push new ideas into the public.

Their experience reveals an important aspect of human nature, which usually remains hidden from public view but can be noticed with some effort. It is well evident even today in public life, on the Internet, in the media, and on many social networks. People seek celebrities and famous politicians only after they become popular, and after they gain a large following. The people they admire might have had a difficult time and spurned by many before they became popular. It is as if more money gets more money, more popularity begets more popularity, and vice versa. Familiarity may breed contempt, but it also brings acceptance.

Why is it so? Why do people not appreciate genuine talent or support good leaders, products and ideas purely based on their merit, instead of their popularity? One of the important reasons is that people tend to follow popular opinion rather than their own because they either do not have time to think or cannot trust their own thinking and reasoning. Many seek approval and appreciation from others to feel good about themselves or their decisions, or follow popular opinion or authority symbols to reassure themselves that they are on the right side of things. It is comforting for many to look for approval and the opinion of others to validate their own decisions, opinions, choices, and judgments.

When they see that a person or an idea is acceptable to a large number of people in society, they automatically assume that the choice is good enough to accept. Therefore, they find no difficulty in joining the crowd to appreciate things. This is the herd mentality, or the group think, with which many are familiar. When you are in a crowd ,you tend to be carried away by the emotions of the crowd and more likely you try to fit in rather than standout. Unless you are very independent minded and value your individuality, you will follow the trodden paths and tested methods rather than choosing your own.

Celebrate your ife on your terms

It is important to be a social person and to live in harmony with others. However, it is equally important to honor your individuality and self-worth. To be an authentic person you must be in touch with your true feelings and trust your own discernment, rather than becoming a blind follower of other people's opinions. You must have a mind of your own and be yourself. Otherwise what is the point of living a life that you cannot own or claim as yours? What is the point of living your life in the mental image of another person?

The best way to celebrate your life is to be yourself, even if you do not find in you what you may find in those whom you hold in great esteem. You must be the measure of your own esteem and self-worth, and you must be courageous and honest enough to accept yourself with all your faults and perfections. You have only one genuine guardian to guard your life and your persona against the world, and that is you. You cannot suppress that person in the hope of gaining approval from others.

Own your identity and individuality

You can be an authentic person, when you do not suppress your inner voice and your true feelings about things and people, and when you do not color your perceptions and experiences with false narratives. You do not have to express your true opinions, if they are going to hurt others, but you must be aware of them and acknowledge them. You must know when you are hurt, when you are angry, when you are afraid, and how you relate to others in your own inner world. That inner world of yours is more important and precious than anything else in the world, because it is your only sanctuary. Otherwise, where else you can hide when you are hurt by the world or troubled by circumstances?

See how far you have gone away from yourself and alienated yourself from yourself. How much you dislike for being yourself, what you are, or what you do. See whether you have developed a public image to make peace with the world and fit in, which you have accepted as your true self-image. Unless you know who you truly are, you will never able to know the difference. You may make compromises with the world, or you may fit in with a crowd for any reason, but you should know that you are doing it for a reason and it is different from what you truly feel inside.

Feelings are the doorways to your authentic personality, which you may often cover up in a maze of cleverly crafted words and delusional justifications. If you want to be your true self, you should not be afraid to be yourself or accept your true feelings. In the heart of your heart you must know who you are and what you truly stand for. Only then you will be able to discern the world for what it is and remain mentally free from self-deception and rationalization. Without it, all your search for spirituality, self-realization, mental peace, inner harmony, balance, stability, yoga practice, meditation, friendship, and even marriage, become superfluous and part of a manipulate and self-deceptive drama. Therefore, first surrender to your true identity and embrace it, before you surrender to God, divinity, or a guru.

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